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About the Ngorongoro Crater



Nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera of the once-volcanic Ngorongoro shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth, ringed with towering walls and sheltering forests, grasslands, fresh springs and a large soda lake. Nearby Olduvai Gorge – a famous early archaeological site – is situated to the west of the Crater in the eastern Serengeti Plains. In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, 42 000 Maasai live and herd their livestock in harmony with Africa’s wild animals.

The Crater floor’s open grassland habitat supports resident herds of grazing herbivores and their attendant predators. Pillarwood, nuxia, mountain bersama, hagenia and ficus trees, all draped with lichens and epiphytic orchids, dominate cloud forest on the Crater rim. Lerai fever tree forest is home to elephant and nesting raptors. The soda-rich Lake Magadi on the Crater floor attracts flamingos and other wading birds, while ducks and other waterfowl favour freshwater ponds. West of the Crater, the ‘short grass plains’ are the traditional calving grounds (January - February) of the Serengeti’s huge wildebeest herds.

A population of around 15 endangered black rhino exists on the Crater floor. Powerful spotted hyena clans regularly clash with lion prides. Huge-tusked elephant bulls occupy the Lerai forest. Golden and black-backed jackal compete with six species of vultures at carrion sites. Buffalo herds number up to 300. Resident wildebeest and zebra do not join the migratory herds of the adjacent Serengeti. Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles are the prey of nomadic cheetah. Buffalo, bushpig, blue monkey and Peters’ duiker occupy the forest on the Crater rim. Kirk’s dik-dik are abundant at nearby Olduvai Gorge, where rare striped hyena have been recorded. Abundant hippos reside in various hippo pools.

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